I am currently experiencing Asian Shop withdrawal symptoms. My favourite Asian supermarket closed down just before Christmas, and the replacement within our local Westfield leaves me sadly wandering the aisles trying to find the ingredient that I am looking for. No lovely helpful lady who always knew where to find just what I was looking for. This new shop is manned by people who, I don't think know how to cook - and really have little interest in helping you at all - if they can talk on the phone, or to someone else while they are serving you - so much the better.
This week's recipe called for fermented soy beans. Not so hard to find you would think - the problem however was that the shop assistants could not understand what I was looking for - they offered me Endamame - no not green beans - "fermented soy beans" I say, they then offered me some kind of canned beans - "no I don't think so - I need fermented soy beans!!!" - they then offered me bean paste - I was not sure about this offering - but I did know that I already had some of this in the pantry - so I would go with what I had. First mistake!! It was not the correct ingredient!!
I was trying out a pork belly recipe that is featured in this year's Thermomix Calendar - Babi Pong Tay. I was already starting to have anxiety attacks looking over the recipe - I have had a few failures cooking "stew" type recipes in the Thermomix of late. I was thinking that I was probably headed for disaster tonight too! You see I had approximately doubled the amount of meat the recipe called for (would it all fit in the TM bowl??). Anyway, with my heart in mouth I started cooking. I doubled the amount of liquid, this could be a problem - usually meals with liquid end up too sloppy, but it really didn't seem like a lot of liquid - don't think, just keep going.....
Anyway to cut to the chase, the meal turned out really well. It was a little too salty - but this was because of the "bean paste" - so I am not going to tell you too much about what I did - I will just give you the recipe - because if I had used the correct ingredient it would have been so much better than "good" - it would have been great!!! Oh, and don't worry too much if you don't have a Thermomix - you can just as easily cook this on the stove.
Babi Pong Tay
From Thermomix - Food Lovers Calendar 2011
1kg pork belly, but into 3cm cubes
2 tbs each thick soy sauce and light soy sauce
2 tbs Chinese cooking wine
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbs cornflour
5 cloves garlic
1 tbs ground coriander
1 cm piece ginger, peeled
1 1/2 tbs fermented soy beans, rinsed
1 cinnamon stick
8-10 pieces dried shitake mushrooms, soaked
white pepper to taste
Marinate the pork in a large bowl with the soy sauces, sugar, Chinese wine, sesame oil and cornflour for at least 15 minutes - longer is best.
Place the garlic, coriander, ginger, onion and soy beans into the TM bowl and chop for 30 seconds on speed 6.
Add cinnamon stick and oil and saute for 3 minutes at varoma temperature on speed 1.
Add the marinated pork and sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes at varoma temperature on reverse and speed soft.
Add enough water to just cover pork and cook for a further 15 minutes at varoma temperature on reverse and speed soft.
Cook for a further 45 minutes at 100 degrees on reverse and speed soft, or until the pork is tender.
Add pepper to taste and serve with steamed rice.
Knowing that I had used the bean paste - I expected some turned up noses, but I must say everyone raved about the meal - it just was a little too salty - so we just added more rice to the bowl. It was a very rich (fatty) meal - but the flavours were oh so lovely!!!
What did I do??? I did manage to get all the pork into the bowl (no mushrooms at this stage) - I cooked it for double the cooking time for all the times up until the last 45 minutes. At this stage I took out some of the liquid, and added the mushrooms.
Now a big tip I have learned lately is that you need to keep the opening at the top of the TM open - but when you do this you sometimes get a kind of volcanic eruption of sauce from the opening - pay attention - here is the really big tip!!! Use your basket - place it over the hole - cover with a paper towel if needs be - but this allows the steam to escape and not make excess liquid!!! Genius idea!!!
I am beginning to learn that when you get a Thermomix life is a bit of trial and error until you become really familiar with all that it can do, and how it actually works. I have my days when I am not so enamoured with it, and others when I am totally in love with it - give me time - I will get it down pat!
So dear Readers what is the worst "replacement" ingredient you have used - and was the meal edible??